Loan Options for Your Degree

It's important to limit the amount of borrowing to only what's necessary, as loans accrue interest and must ultimately be repaid.

Federal Direct and Parent PLUS Loans 

Students and parents can access loan funding for college costs with the U.S. Department of Education. Dependent undergraduates may borrow up to $12,500 per year in Direct Loans, depending on eligibility criteria, while dependent students' parents may apply for credit-based Parent PLUS Loans. If a parent is denied, additional federal loan options are available in the student's name.

Know Your Annual and Lifetime Limits

Direct Loans have both an annual maximum eligibility amount and an aggregate limit, which is the maximum amount a student can receive in federal Direct Loans.

Direct Loan aggregate limits:

  • Dependent undergraduate students: $31,000 total, of which $23,000 can be subsidized
  • Independent undergraduate students or dependent students whose parents have been denied PLUS Loans: $57,500 total, of which $23,000 can be subsidized
  • Graduate students: $138,500 total, of which $23,000 can be subsidized

Students may review all loans received through the federal education loan programs.

Proration of Federal Direct Loans

Columbia College must prorate, or adjust, Direct Loan amounts per federal regulations for students who have fewer than a full year's worth of courses (four eight-week sessions or in one 16-week semester) to complete a degree. If applicable, the Financial Aid Office will calculate the appropriate percentage amount for the remaining sessions and notify the student through CougarMail.

Private Loan Lenders

Columbia College recommends taking a conservative approach when it comes to taking out private loans. While they can be used to supplement college costs, they are credit-based and come with higher interest rates than federal loans and must be repaid. Additionally, some U.S. state governments provide loans to their residents.

What you need to know:

The Missouri Family Education Loan Program (MOFELP)

State Higher Education Agencies

Find Private Lenders


Know Your Rights and Responsibilities

With interest and fees, most loans cost more than the original amount borrowed. So it's important to know the facts and exercise caution before you commit to taking on debt. Consider how much you need to borrow before taking on a loan, and know your rights and responsibilities.

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